Today we had professional sheep shearer Aaron Loux of Busy Corner Farm here at the the Hamsphire College Farm to shear our sheep. Sheep shearing has a long history, dating back at least to the Bronze Age in ancient Crete. Although sheep were originally shorn using sharp pieces of glass or metal (yikes!), blade shears were eventually invented and are still in use today. Aaron, however, utilized machine shears, the prototypes of which were invented in the late 1800s; as you can see in our videos (links below), they are much like human hair clippers.
(And, speaking of gear, check out his special sheep shearing moccasins, which are designed to protect the feet, grip floors that are slippery with lanolin, and absorb sweat.)
Sheep shearing is hard, hot work; it requires specific stances and stroke techniques designed for maximum efficiency and animal care, as well as a great deal of physical fitness. (One author I read compared it, unscientifically, to running five marathons in a day.) Competitive sheep shearing contests are held worldwide, particularly in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K., and Ireland. In our 95 degree weather, Aaron averaged about 2 1/2 minutes per lamb – way to go! Check out our video of today’s shearing. Here’s another one with a closer view.
As you can see, the lambs look much happier now!